Subradiance protected excitation transport

Needham, Jemma Ann (2020) Subradiance protected excitation transport. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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We investigate collective behaviour that appears in open, many-body systems of two- and four-level atoms. Here, ``open" refers to the system interacting with an external environment that causes dissipation. We derive a general open quantum master equation to describe the system dynamics only, independent of this environment. We identify processes such as coherent exchange of virtual photons and modified decay rates caused by long-range interactions between all pairs of atoms that scale with distance by inverse power laws.

We explore excitation transport within a one-dimensional chain of atoms where the atomic transition dipoles are coupled to the free radiation field. When the interatomic spacing is smaller than or comparable to the wavelength of light associated with the photon emitted from a given transition, virtual photon exchange interactions facilitate excitation transport through the chain. Atomic systems coupled to an environment display dissipative dynamics, however subradiant transport is exhibited from a variety of initial states; spontaneous emission from the chain occurs at a rate much slower than that for an individual atom. In particular, we find a region within the decay spectrum that consists entirely of subradiant states with a corresponding linear dispersion relation in the interaction energy. Identifying this subspace allows for the dispersionless transport of wave packets over long distances with near-zero decay. Moreover, the group velocity of the wave packet and direction of the transport can be controlled via an external uniform magnetic field while preserving its subradiant character.

We discuss a number of experimental considerations to justify the feasibility and robustness of this protocol. Initial state preparation is outlined, utilising external laser driving to excite the system into the single excitation sector. Furthermore, we consider positional disorder by explicitly accounting for the external atomic degrees of freedom -- position and momentum -- which allows us to model the positions of all atoms by a motional state representing the occupation of a lattice well with a given width. These discussions are made in the low-temperature limit, where the atomic motion is essentially frozen, and we identify that subradiant transport is indeed robust.

Finally, we explore the experimental limits of interatomic spacing and imperfect filling within an experimentally achievable optical lattice. We calculate the photon emission rate -- an experimentally measurable quantity -- and compare the emission spectra to our analysis. By limiting parameters to those achieved experimentally, we observe a reduction, yet not an absence, of collective behaviour.

The simplicity and versatility of this system, together with the robustness of subradiance against disorder, makes it relevant for a range of applications such as lossless energy transport and long-time light storage. The lifetime of an atomic excitation could be increased by a factor of thousands to millions for a chain of atoms under the conditions that we explore in this thesis.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Olmos Sanchez, Beatriz
Lesanovsky, Igor
Keywords: Quantum optics, Excitation transport, Light storage, Two-level atoms
Subjects: Q Science > QC Physics > QC350 Optics. Light, including spectroscopy
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Science > School of Physics and Astronomy
Item ID: 61187
Depositing User: Needham, Jemma
Date Deposited: 31 Dec 2020 04:40
Last Modified: 31 Dec 2020 04:40

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